A funny thing happens when you work towards your goals and you miss.
If you do the work, you come out a stronger person open to different goals.
For the past year and a half I had been working towards a marketing position within my job. I was doing a lot of writing and social media posts for the organization to help show them I could easily take on the job. I knew the position would be posted post-Covid chaos, so I was focused on that one job. Nothing else.
I enrolled in an online marketing class to beef up my skills. I learned things I never knew and realized I truly love writing marketing materials for businesses. I would never have known that had I not been prepping for the job.
Finally, after months of waiting, the job was posted! And....it was totally different than what it was originally going to be. They decided they wanted someone with several years of marketing executive experience.
I don't have that. I have a few years of marketing experience. I've been with the organization for 6 years and I know their vision, mission and values. It wasn't enough, and I didn't even get an interview.
The sadness I felt at first was a heavy dark cloud. For several days I couldn't pull myself out of the crushing disappointment. I felt like a failure, like I had nothing of value to offer.
With tears in my eyes, I told my husband, "Maybe I'm delusional. Maybe I'm a terrible writer and no one has the nerve to tell me. I think I just suck."
That's what missing a goal does to you--it gets in your head and has you believing you're not worthy. Too many positive quotes claim all you have to do is believe and visualize your goal. I couldn't have visualized or believed more than I did, yet I still missed the mark.
I meditate/pray most mornings, and I often ask God, "Where do you need me?" because I do struggle with feeling I have no place, and I add no value. I want so badly to put my skills to work that it makes me feel suffocated that I'm not.
I recently sat again and asked that same question. We humans ask questions, but we secretly have our own answers that we'd rather hear.
If I'm honest, I have known for a while now I need to go back to teaching. I used to teach at colleges as an adjunct, but the work was so underpaid, as a single mom at the time, I had to quit.
Teachers in my kids' schools are burned out. They have had 2 years of unbelievable stress. A thought occurred to me, "Don't run from the fire. Run INTO it."
I want to help them. I want to put my degrees and passion to work. I enrolled to be a substitute to bring relief. To reach students. To breathe life into the part of my brain that loves talking about grammar, essay writing and literature--you know, the stuff teenagers will roll their eyes at. Bring it on!
When I opened the door to other possibilities and stopped clinging so stubbornly to my original goal of working my way up a corporate ladder, the opportunities revealed themselves.
A college for students studying to go into the nursing field hired me part time on the spot to teach English and public speaking to give them the communication skills they need with patients. They're in the inner city of Dayton, and I'll be teaching non-traditional students who need extra encouragement and confidence instilled in them.
Nurses are exhausted now, and they need help. I don't have the stomach to help them (I've never even pulled my kids' teeth without dry-heaving, so I'm out), but I can teach and prepare the future nurses who are headed their way.
Since I've posted my resume online, people have reached out to me to write for their businesses. These are entrepreneurs who are working hard to succeed, but have no time/interest to write marketing materials. It's my job to help them say what they want to say but don't know how to say it. And I love that.
When we're young, we're full of vigor and irrational confidence. We think we can do anything. I've noticed as I age, I lose this risk-taking energy since I have bills and children who can't be naked or hungry.
My moves are more calculated, quiet and patient. Gone are the quick leaps of faith I used to take and have been replaced with small, skillfully taken steps of faith towards something unknown that I am open to.
It could have been so easy to stay at my current job for the next 25 years. I know the job. It requires almost no stress. It's a routine I know so well that very little thinking is required.
On my death bed one day, I don't want to say, "Well, that was easy. I did very little." I wanted more, and I kept my eyes open for more.
I'm not quite sure what I'm walking into as I switch gears and forge a new path, but judging from how my soul feels lighter, I know it must be the right direction.
What about you? Is there something tugging at you that you want to move towards, but it feels too scary? Too different? Too out of your league?
I've learned you might as well dig in and build yourself up to be ready for whatever waits around the corner.
Invest in yourself and do the work you feel called to, even when no one's knocking on your door to do it for a paycheck. Even when you miss the goals you originally had, you become more confident of your abilities because instead of waiting around for someone to validate them, you've been working hard and being open to the journey.
Rather than envisioning yourself as that person, you've slowly become that person by the work you've done, and that alone makes us a better person for the world.
Going into this new year, think about some things you want from your life. If you feel comfortable, ask God, "Where do you need me to help? Show me."
The answers might not be what you had in your mind. The answers are scarier, more fulfilling, and come with no guarantees of a happily ever after.
But listening and running towards it feels better than standing at a desk all day pretending not to hear.